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March 18, 2013

Washington State Will Close Sport Fishing for Three Shark Species

Changes restrict even catch-and-release fishing for sevengill, sixgill and thresher sharks.

The Washington (State) Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to prohibit anglers from pursuing three shark species, even on a catch-and-release basis. The sharks include sevengill, sixgill and thresher sharks. The new regulation, adopted by the commission earlier this month, is set to take effect May 1.

In its rationale, the commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said there was concern regarding the status of the three shark species. The commission added that given the sharks'  life histories, they are highly susceptible to overfishing. However, the commission provided no scientific data to back-up its decision.

Under the previous regulations, anglers could fish for the three species, but on a catch-and-release basis only. In the new reguatlions, the commission has allowed for an exception for people with a scientific collection permit issued by the WDFW. These permit holders will be allowed to catch and release the sharks.

Comments to the commission reflected virtually 100 percent opposition to the new regulations, with many sport fishermen expressing frustration with the commission's actions, typified in the comment by angler Chris Meyer of Kalama, Washington. "The closing of angling for these sharks is an outrage and unjustified without further research," he said. "A catch-and-release program would be more fitting and fair for Washington anglers."

Want to know how big sixgills and other sharks can get? Check out our story on the biggest fish of all time